Fifty Shades of Brown Sauce

It was only a matter of time before I crumbled and jumped onto the current fad for subjugation – which is my understanding of the literary phenomenon that has spawned, in a manner of speaking, a whole industry. However, I am not sure how one can crumble and jump at the same time.

Subjugation is a recurrent theme in my work with clients as they struggle with issues around self-esteem and assertiveness. Many people learn from a young age that they can gain acceptance by others only by subjugating their own physical and emotional needs. It is not just a question of self-denial, it is a matter of denial of the self. Subjugation is a form of maladaptive schema in terms of cognitive behaviour therapy formulation.

I remember one client describing how she would not put brown sauce on her cooked breakfast because the smell of it disturbed her husband. Years of bacon and eggs without brown sauce. It seems like such a small thing, but we recognised it as a potent emblem of how in this and in many other ways she subjugated her needs within the marital relationship. It became a short-hand way to flag similar patterns of behaviour in the relationship.

My client was like a rose kept in a darkened room, unable to flourish because of both the constraints placed upon her and her acceptance of those constraints.